IRIN Update 370 for 7-9 Mar 98.3.9

IRIN Update 370 for 7-9 Mar 98.3.9

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 370 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 7-9 March 1998)

RWANDA: Over 5,000 genocide suspects to stand trial this year

Supreme Court Prosecutor Simeon Rwagasore has announced that over 5,000 genocide suspects will be tried this year, compared to 300 last year, the Rwanda News Agency reported. The move is aimed at resolving the problem of Rwanda's overcrowded prisons. Rwagasore urged the government to help the judiciary in its work. He was speaking after a meeting last week between public prosecutors and Prime Minister Pierre Celestin Rwigema. The premier said one of the government's major concerns was that the genocide trials be speeded up.

Gitarama reported calm after rebel infiltration

Fighting in central Gitarama prefecture was reported under control, after rebels infiltrated the area last week. Deputy Commander of the Gitarama-Kibuye brigade, Colonel Karenzi Karake told RNA on Saturday life had now returned to normal, although mopping-up operations were still continuing in some communes to crush the remaining Interahamwe militiamen scattered in forests, swamps and hills of the Ndiza region. The rebels had been cut off from returning to their hideouts in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures. Some of the 80 prisoners, freed by the rebels in Nyakabanda commune, had started to return, RNA reported.

Genocide suspect rearrested in US

A Hutu cleric and genocide suspect has been rearrested in the US, after an American court set him free last year saying his detention was unconstitutional, the 'EastAfrican' weekly reported today. The Reverend Elizaphan Ntakirutimana has been called to stand trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). A State Department official, explaining the re-arrest, said: "We believe that the law and the facts support surrender for trial."

BURUNDI: Airline boss arrested for bribe-taking

The director-general of the national airline, Air Burundi, has been arrested for taking bribes, Burundi radio reported on Friday. It quoted Transport Minister Venerand Nzohabonayo as saying the case was now in the hands of the judiciary. The minister added that Air Burundi was currently undergoing financial problems due to its internal management and the regional embargo. Meanwhile, French President Jacques Chirac is reported to have called for lifting the sanctions on Burundi. President Pierre Buyoya, speaking after meeting Chirac in Paris, said the French leader "deplored" the embargo and called for a review, AFP reported.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN team complains of witness harassment

The UN human rights investigation team in DRC has complained that two witnesses it interviewed in the northwest Mbandaka region have been arrested, Radio France Internationale reported. The mission also said its members were being tailed by the authorities. However spokesman Jose Diaz told IRIN today (Monday) the team's activities were continuing in Mbandaka. He added that the security situation in eastern DRC did not permit investigations there at the moment. Team members had left for Angola where they will interview Rwandan refugees, he said. Refugees in the Central African Republic and Congo-Brazzaville had already been interviewed.

Mayi-Mayi rebels said targeting Katangese soldiers

More details have come to light about the alleged killing of 300 people by DRC soldiers in Butembo last month. The allegations were made by the DRC human rights group AZADHO, who said the army was retaliating against the temporary occupation of the town by rebel Mayi-Mayi fighters. AZADHO deputy chairman Pascal Kabale told Radio France Internationale on Friday the fact the Mayi-Mayi were now attacking Katangese soldiers, who make up most of the army in the Butembo area, was a new development as they had previously targeted Tutsis whom they regard as "foreigners". According to Kabale, the Mayi-Mayi had accused the DRC soldiers of "molesting the people". This included "torture, degrading acts and even summary executions", he said. Local sources told IRIN today civilian victims had been buried in mass graves by the military. Butembo is under curfew and very tense as the Mayi-Mayi have reportedly threatened to attack again.

'Le Soft International' seized at airport

Copies of the international edition of the independent newspaper 'Le Soft' were seized at Kinshasa airport last week, reportedly because the paper was carrying an article on fresh unrest in eastern DRC. According to AFP, 'Le Soft International', which is distributed in Europe, has been seized four times in the past eight months. It is run by Kin-Kiey Mulumba who was information minister under ousted president Mobutu Sese Seko.

Kabila discusses "minor border frictions" in Bangui

President Laurent-Desire Kabila has had talks in Bangui with his CAR counterpart Ange-Felix Patasse to discuss "minor frictions" on the border between the two countries, DRC radio in Bunia reported. Kabila stopped off in Bangui on Thursday on his return from a summit meeting in Mozambique.

Kabila meets EU envoy

On Saturday, Kabila met the EU special envoy for the Great Lakes region Aldo Ajello in Kinshasa, according to DRC television. They discussed the EU's contribution to DRC's process of democratisation. Ajello announced that the EU had appointed a unit to handle the process and approved a financial package to help it along.

NGO says food shortages could be avoided

An NGO operating in northern DRC has pointed out that the region of Dungu-Doruma on the border with Sudan is agriculturally under-developed because of the appalling infrastructure. Terre sans Frontieres said the region had agricultural potential which could easily be developed. If the roads were maintained, the region could produce enough to relieve food shortages in Sudan and contribute towards the development of northern DRC and southern Sudan.

SUDAN: Bashir reshuffles cabinet

President Omar al-Bashir has reshuffled his cabinet and created a new ministry for international cooperation and investment. According to Sudanese television, the reshuffle includes new defence, interior and justice ministers. AFP noted the reshuffle brings in ex-SPLA rebel Lam Akol as transport minister and includes two northern opponents.

UGANDA: Museveni says western aid encourages dependency

President Yoweri Museveni, addressing a meeting of international investors in Addis Ababa yesterday (Sunday), accused the West of encouraging dependency in Africa by continuing to provide aid to "dead economies", Reuters reported. "Aid causes dependency and dependency is slavery," he said. Despite three decades of western aid, there was no country in Africa where citizens led very comfortable lives. "That is proof that the aid policy is wrong for Africa," Museveni said. He criticised the IMF and World Bank for seeking to force the implementation of structural reforms in Africa without trying to understand different African economies, Reuters said. He called instead for politically educating Africans "to understand abuse by their governments".

Political parties demand freedom to operate

Political parties in Uganda are demanding the freedom to conduct their activities ahead of a visit by US President Bill Clinton, according to Gabonese radio. Its correspondent in the region noted that the Ugandan constitution approves the existence of parties but bans their activities. Political parties are organising a conference two weeks before Clinton's visit this month "to remind the US president that multiparty politics in Uganda is not dead," the radio said.

Rebels kill 29

Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) used axes and pangas to hack 29 people to death in the northern Gulu district, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported on Saturday. The killings occurred in various parts of the district over the last week, it said.

Police allegedly abducting refugees

The Ugandan human rights commission said on Friday it was investigating allegations that police were abducting Rwandan and DRC refugees. AFP quoted a member of the commission as saying the motive of the abductions had not yet been established. The chief of external security organisation Philip Idri denied the police were behind the abductions of four named people. "People accuse us of this because they think we support Rwanda, but our first concern is law and order," he said.

Charter flights to remote northern regions

United Airlines of Uganda has launched special charter flights to Adjumani, Arua, Moyo and Pakuba in the north of the country. Ugandan radio said the flights would operate daily from Entebbe airport. Tourism Minister Brigadier Moses Ali said the move would help people in the West Nile region who suffered from severe transport problems.

ANGOLA: UNITA announces complete demobilisation

The former rebel UNITA movement has announced a complete demobilisation of its forces by the middle of this month. A statement broadcast by UNITA radio on Friday, said a "special and final demobilisation operation" would take place in some 15 locations between 11-15 March and UNITA generals would be demobilised in Bailundo between 16-19 March. UNITA leaders would enter Luanda on 31 March following the demobilisation, the final deadline for implementation of the 1994 Lusaka peace accord.

KENYA: New tax measures condemned

Kenyan press reports said new tax measures introduced by the government last week have been greeted with "almost unanimous condemnation". The 'Daily Nation' said businessmen, politicians and ordinary citizens alike described the tax increases on fuel and VAT as "harsh, punitive and brutal". The newspaper said the prices of most commodities would rise as a result of the tax changes, introduced to offset a rising budget deficit.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Weapons still prevail in Brazzaville

UNICEF says despite the government's efforts to disarm militiamen and others holding illegal weapons, the prevalence of arms in Brazzaville and elsewhere in the country is still widespread. Young members of the Cobras, Ninjas and other militias are refusing to hand in their weapons, particularly as many of them have not been integrated into the national army. Minister of Labour and Social Security Jean-Martin Mbemba was wounded when armed bandits broke into his house just north of Brazzaville. His driver and a bodyguard were shot and killed.

Nairobi, 9 March 1998, 14:15 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]

Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 17:06:29 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 370 for 7-9 Mar 98.3.9 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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